By Randall Orndorff, (c) 2000
Broken glass bit into my knees and I tried to keep my balance. My hands were bound behind my back with a simple plastic strip, like the kind electricians use to keep bundles of wire together, only this seemed thicker, tougher. Duct tape covered my mouth, and although I could breathe freely through my nose, I felt like I was suffocating.
The man walked into my field of vision. He was tall, bulky, and his eyes were cold blue. He was dressed in a badly tailored suit, too small for his shoulders, but it had the effect him larger, more intimidating. He ripper the duct tape off of my mouth with his left hand as he smoothly drew an automatic pistol from his jacket with his right. I couldn’t tell what kind, only that it looked awfully big to me. He pressed the gun to my forehead, and finally spoke.
“You’re a cool customer. Mostly your kind either babbles or just breaks down when they know its over.”
“Trust me, I’m screaming on the inside.” I was, but he doubted my sincerity and smashed me in the face with the butt of his gun. Lights exploded behind my eyes and I fell on my back, helpless, like a turtle. I found myself looking up at the woman. She was think, and also tall, with dark brown hair, I couldn’t see her eyes. She was dressed in jeans but didn’t look comfortable, like she was dressed to casually for this kind of work. I could hear tension and no small amount of despair in her voice when she spoke.
“Just get this over with. He’s the last.” I couldn’t suppress a chuckle at that statement. I realized it was a bad move as soon as I did it, and the big guy kicked me in the kidneys. It was a good kick and I crumpled into a ball on the the floor, tears streaming down my face. I felt the cold weight of the gun on my temple.
“What’s so god-damned funny?”
I felt the man’s presence looming over me. I looked up at him over the gun barrel, and attempted to appear unafraid. I failed, but felt better for trying.
“She sounded so sure. As if she knew I was the last in the world, and peace and harmony would reign all over if you’d just kill me.” “And that’s funny?” It was the woman speaking, anger rising in her voice. “You’d be amazed what’s funny when two thugs are about to kill you.”
The woman looked at me, and as she spoke, her gaze softened. “You’re not like the rest. You don’t have the marks of a fanatic.” Even the man seemed to relax a little at that, as if pondering what she had said.
“I’ll take that as a compliment. Faith and fanaticism are easily confused, but only faith is a virtue. I doubt that will save me from you two, however.”
The man sneered. “What, your god won’t or can’t help you? Isn’t he all-seeing and all-knowing?”
I smiled through the haze of fear and pain. “I don’t know, but I’m fairly sure it’s here right now,” I gestured at our environs with my head “Look around you, see the stains on the walls and ceiling, the broken windows, the dirt floor, and you can’t tell me that you hadn’t noticed that *smell*…”
My would-be killers looked around themselves, almost involuntarily. As they did, a yellow stain on the ceiling appeared to grow before my eyes. I must have shown my fear, for when I pulled my attention away, the pair were looking down at me quizzically.
“It’s here,” I said, and suddenly felt at peace. My captors seemed to feel differently. The woman exchanged a silent glance with her partner, drew her gun, and walked cautiously outside. The man picked me up to my knees, and pressed the gun to my head. I began to speak, surprising myself.
“I’ve done things you wouldn’t dare imagine, eaten children under the Yellow Sign, and danced inhumanly wile singing Carcosan hymns, all with the understanding that there was *no* salvation. Always, I knew that my fate would be no different than the unenlightened. I have always believed that we are their cattle, at most their sport. Never did I think that I would ever be in the presence of divinity.”
The man blanched. The woman’s scream could be heard quite clearly from the inside of the building. A dull roar began from outside, drowning out all other, more natural, noises. It was like static mixed with the breath of a great beast. At that moment I felt the dreaming king’s caress, and knew I had been chosen.
The man stood shakily. “Eve! Eve, dammit I can’t see you!” he shouted, struggling to be heard.
I watched him walk outside, following him with my gaze. As he stepped beyond the threshold, his clothing began to tatter and fray, holes appearing in the fabric. He raised his arms to shield his eyes from something I could not see, and was gone.
I stood and my restraints fell off. He made me lie down in green pastures. Calmly and with purpose, I stepped forward into the City. His rod and his staff gave me comfort. Faith had seen me home.